LANCASTER – Doctors, employees and former patients’ parents are seeking reappointment of the longtime director of Antelope Valley Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, who was removed last month by a medical group that employs him. Dr. Murugesa Thangavel, who founded the unit in 1984 to treat premature and critically ill babies, had sold his practice to the Pediatrix Medical Group last year as part of an effort to bring in more neonatologists, officials said. “All the pediatricians in the valley on the medical staff of the hospital unanimously support him and respect his integrity and quality of medical care for premature babies,” said Dr. P.N. Varma, a pediatrician. About a dozen people spoke at the hospital board meeting Wednesday on behalf of Thangavel, including mothers who credited him with saving the lives of their babies who were treated in the unit and have since grown into healthy children, teens and young adults. “Unfortunately, this Pediatrix Group that the hospital has contracted with chose to remove him from the medical directorship based on anonymous complaints and complaints from hospital middle management,” Krishna said. Hospital board member Berna Mayer said having a contract with Pediatrix puts the hospital in a position to receive state funding for disabled children. “The problem is it’s difficult to get certification with just one physician there,” Mayer said. Hospital officials said they value Thangavel’s service, but that the decision to replace him was between him and the Pediatrix group. Thangavel could not be reached for comment Thursday. [email protected] (661) 267-5744160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The hospital chief of staff, Dr. Doddanna Krishna, said medical leaders have passed a resolution asking the hospital administration to reappoint Thangavel as unit director. “Dr. Thangavel has provided services to hundreds and thousands of babies. He’s an asset to the hospital and community,” Krishna said. “No one can match his skills and compassion.” Hospital board member June Snow said 35 of the 53 nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit expressed support for Thangavel at a meeting about two weeks ago. Pediatrix spokesman Bob Kneeley said he couldn’t comment on a personnel matter. Krishna and Varma said there have been anonymous complaints made against Thangavel.